Friday, June 30, 2017

5 No Votes and the Pastoral Call to Emmanuel Enid

Rachelle and I recently crossed the 25-year threshold of serving the same church in northwestern Oklahoma. I was 30 years old on February 2, 1992, when Emmanuel Enid called me to serve. More than a few told me before the official vote that they thought I was too young and inexperienced to be their "Senior Pastor." I couldn't argue with their logic.

I had led a memorial service in Tulsa on Friday night, January 31, 1992, before coming in view-of-a-call to Emmanuel on Sunday. The memorial service honored Charles Spurgeon on the 100th anniversary of his death (January 31, 1892). About 200 pastors attended the event that night, including Dr. Lewis Drummond, a pre-eminent scholar on the life of Spurgeon. The next morning, Dr. Drummond and I had breakfast and his hotel, and we discussed different facets of Spurgeon's life and ministry. I pointed out that when the Metropolitan Tabernacle called Spurgeon to be their pastor in April 1854, the church gave Spurgeon only 5 "No" votes, even though he had no "formal" theological education, was considered too young (19 years old), and had only served as a pastor at a small country church.  Dr. Drummond knew I was going to be voted on the next day as pastor of Emmanuel Enid. I remarked to him, "If I would only have 5 "No" votes tomorrow, it would be a true miracle." 

Remarkably, when the members of Emmanuel Enid voted by secret ballot, I received exactly 5 "No" votes. I kept those 5 ballots in my wallet as a reminder that God calls me to love and serve all people, regardless of their lack of affection for me. The number of "No" votes served as confirmation that God desired us to be in Enid, Oklahoma, and we accepted the call.

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